Can iFixit? – A Tech Enthusiast’s Thoughts on Recent Developments in “Right to Repair”

By Michael Gonzalez

For my journal note, I would like to write about the “Right to Repair Movement” (hereinafter referred to as “Right to Repair”), a movement that has gained significant traction and attention over the past few years. At its core, “Right to Repair” was a movement established under the belief that “end users, consumers, or third-party servicers [should have] greater access to tools, manuals, diagnostic information, or other parts/components needed to freely repair products or equipment in the events the products fail.”[1] Put differently, proponents of “Right to Repair” argue that consumers buying electronics should have the ability to fully repair and maintain the equipment and devices they purchase, and should not have to rely on the manufacturer’s repair services in order to maintain said products. While applying to most forms of technology, the movement’s efforts typically center around three primary industries: “agricultural equipment, medical devices, and consumer digital electronics”.[2]

The movement has risen to prominence–according to proponents of “Right to Repair”–at least partially due to several practices implemented by various electronics manufacturers that make repairs harder for individuals looking to do independent repairs, typically including design choices that make independent repairs less safe, software locks and other software-based measures, and a general lack of availability of official parts, repair manuals, and diagnostic software and tools, among numerous other manufacturer practices.[3] Manufacturers cite numerous reasons justifying these practices, most prominently emphasizing the protection of the brand’s intellectual property and reputation, as well as safety concerns for consumers who may attempt to repair their devices on their own.[4]  Despite these arguments, consumer advocates counter such arguments by claiming that these practices ultimately do more harm than good, asserting that such “repair restrictions prevent timely repairs, raise the prices consumers must pay for repairs, result in harm to the environment, and threaten small and local businesses.”[5] Furthermore, these practices in certain scenarios can effectively make it so that certain types of repairs are impossible for individuals and independent repair shops to complete, with one notable example being Apple’s synchronization of iPhone parts to each device’s respective logic board.[6] Regardless of where one may stand on the matter, the simple reality is that “many consumer products have become harder to fix and maintain… [leaving] consumers whose products break… [with] limited choices.”[7]

Given the abundance and seemingly omnipresent nature of technology in our everyday lives, it isn’t a surprise that “Right to Repair” has become a popular topic of discussion in the tech world; emblematic of this fact are the ample lawsuits and legislation tied to “Right to Repair” that have been introduced, even just over the past few years alone. Throughout the year of 2023 so far, two class action lawsuits have either been initiated or have already concluded, targeting the supposed anti-consumer practices implemented by two major companies: John Deere and Tesla. Each lawsuit accuses their respective company of anticompetitive conduct, impeding consumers and independent repair shops from performing repairs on their products, utilizing the Sherman Act §§ 1 and 2 as the legal centerpiece for their arguments.[8] On the legislative side, several “Right to Repair” laws have been–or are in the process of–getting passed, with two notable examples being New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act, passed on December 28th, 2022, as well as California’s Right to Repair Act, which was passed unanimously by California’s Senate in May, and is currently headed to the California State Assembly.[9] These are only a few examples of how “Right to Repair” has infiltrated state legislatures, with a myriad of other legislation being proposed in states such as Colorado and Minnesota.[10] Likewise, “Right to Repair” has not gone unnoticed in the eyes of the federal government, with the FTC publishing an extensive report regarding the subject in May 2021.[11] Given how much technology touches our lives each and every day–from our phones that almost seem smarter than us, to our farming equipment which provides a steady supply of food to an ever-growing population–it is clear that the ideas discussed in “Right to Repair” are not only extremely relevant, but are perhaps more important than ever in our modern “plugged-in” world. It is for this reason that I find the legal arguments surrounding “Right to Repair” extremely fascinating, and eagerly await the opportunity to discuss it in further detail in my note.

[1] Beth Schneider Naylor and Jacob E. Bischoff at Frost Brown Todd, States of Disrepair – Recent Developments in the “Right to Repair” Movement, Manufacturing Net (Aug. 25, 2023),

[2] Id.

[3] FTC, FTC-2019-0013, Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions 17-18 (2021).

[4] See id. at 24-30, 32-33.

[5] Id. at 38.

[6] See id. at 23.

[7] Id. at 3.

[8] See Statement of Interest of the United States at 1, In re Deere & Co. Repair Servs. Antitrust Litig., No. 3:22-cv-50188 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2023); see also Lambrix v. Tesla, Inc., No. 23-cv-01543-TLT, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122927, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Jun. 9, 2023).

[9]  See Cameron Faulkner, New York Breaks the Right to Repair Bill as It’s Signed Into Law, The Verge (Dec. 29, 2022, 11:11 AM),; see also Emma Roth, Surprise: Apple Now Supports California’s Right to Repair, The Verge (Aug. 23, 2023, 5:11 PM),

[10] See Right to Repair Legislation Achieves New Milestone, CALPIRG (May 18, 2023),

[11] FTC, supra note 3.